I see many older patients with skin that’s beginning to show its age. They want to know what’s the best skin preparation to help regain a more youthful look. I tell them that one of the best anti-aging, skin rejuvenation, products is really not one of those expensive products after all. Rather, it’s a product of Nature that you can buy relatively cheaply in the produce department of your local grocery – the skin-rejuvenating papaya. Here’s why…
Reap The Anti-Aging Skin Benefits of Papaya
When patients come to me with skin problems – particularly ‘aging skin issues’ – I ask them how many fruits and vegetables they eat a day and if they take supplements to boost their nutrient intake. Why? Well, I’ve always believed that your skin – being one of the largest organs of your body – will reflect the health of your inner body on your outer skin. Without adequate antioxidants in your diet, your skin will start to show the free radical ‘oxidation’ damage going on internally.
When my older patients come to me with dull, grayish complexions dotted with many age spots, sagging, lines and furrows, looking older than their years, I know that they’re deficient in antioxidants. The first thing I tell them is to start eating more fruits and vegetables, get the processed “frankenfoods” out of their diet, and get a good, high-antioxidant value supplement. Second, I tell them to go to their local produce vendor and pick up some papaya to both eat and use on their skin.
Papaya can work wonders on tired, “old” looking skin. It’s high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and also contains Vitamin E, so it has a significant antioxidant value. Applying papaya to your skin has an amazing tightening, as well as brightening, effect. It’s abundant in natural alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) which is an ingredient in those expensive anti-aging skin formulas. It acts as a gentle exfoliator as well as a skin brightener. Whenever you exfoliate the dark, dead skin cells, the skin will appear lighter, brighter, clearer and more youthful looking.
Papaya also contains papain – one of Nature’s best anti-inflammatories and skin exfoliators. Papain is commonly used in cooking to tenderize meat as it has the ability to break down protein. Yet, on the skin, papain works to break down the inactive protein of dead skin cells that accumulate on your skin’s surface. This buildup of dead skin cells is what gives your skin that dull, grayish look. Too much exposure to sun can cause clumps of these dead skin cells to form into those telltale ugly dark “age” spots.
Because of its exfoliating and anti-inflammatory properties, some alternative health care practitioners even report success at removing ringworm with papaya.
Here are some ways to use papaya to reap its full skin benefit:
- To brighten: Scoop out the papaya fruit to eat but save the peel. No more than 3 times a week, rub the peel across your freshly washed skin (face or hands, wherever the dark age spots are) and leave for 5 minutes then rinse completely off with cold water. AHA is concentrated in the papaya peel so you might start to get dryness and irritation if you do this too frequently or leave it on too long. You might experiment with up to 7 minutes to reap more effect as long as drying or redness don’t occur. Use a good moisturizer afterwards that contains an SPF-15 sunscreen. You can also use natural sunscreen products that contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to protect you from UVA and UVB rays. I like a few drops of pure coconut or palm oil. Olive oil works good too but can tend to leave a greenish tint to the skin if you use the very dark, extra virgin oils.
- To tighten/tone: Mash, or puree in a blender, the papaya fruit with several drops of whole milk, half/half, or whipping cream, and apply to your face, neck, décolleté. The fat in the milk/cream slows down the AHA so as not to dry the skin out. Leave for 15 minutes and wash off with cold water. Apply moisturizer. You should notice a tighter, more toned look to face and neck skin.
- To hydrate/moisturize: Mash/puree papaya fruit with honey or refrigerated (hardened) coconut oil and apply to your face. Leave for 15 minutes then rinse with cold water. This has both a moisturizing and tightening effect and can be used on drier, or more sensitive, skins. Use a light UV containing moisturizer afterwards.
Now, if you’ve never eaten papaya fruit, or papain enzyme in meat tenderizers before, be sure you don’t have an allergy to it before eating it or using it on your skin. If you have other tropical fruit allergies, or any food allergies, there may be a chance that you could react to papaya as well.
Take a very small amount of papaya and rub it on the inside skin of your wrist. If your skin reddens, itches, or swells, you may be allergic to it. Tell your doctor about your reaction and ask if you can safely eat, or use, papaya on your skin before doing so.
Including a variety of fruits and vegetables, and boosting with specific supplements, will ensure that you get all the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances your body needs to stay healthy. Nature provides some incredible nutrients, like papaya, that not only help you stay healthy on the inside, but keep your skin looking youthful well into your older years.